There’s a mystery brewing on Haida Gwaii, where photos of an unusual beach formation have locals scratching their heads.
“I’ve asked quite a few of the elders here if they had ever seen and none of them said they had ever seen it,” said Skidegate Chief Councillor Bill Yovanovich, who took the photos Saturday on Lina Island.
They show small bits of white shells arranged into what appears to be an intentional grid pattern that stretches at least a hundred metres along the beach.
“I had never seen anything on the beach like that before. You’ll see the horizontal tide lines, but never the vertical ones.”
“It could possibly have been somebody collected those and made the formations … but it would be tedious and would take a long time, and it really looked like the tide had done it.”
Yovanovich posted the photos to his Facebook page and on a local Facebook group for First Nations food gathering, where they’ve attracted significant interest — and debate.
Some people suggested the shapes were caused by a rare oceanic phenomenon known as “square waves.”
Others were convinced the grid was man-made, while others have cast further afield for theories.
“Locally, here, our elders are thinking it might be the work of some of the supernatural beings. A lot of other people are jokingly saying it was aliens,” said Yovanovich.
Another suggestion was that the shapes reflected ancient clam beds at the site, but Yovanovich said the shell pieces were all on the surface of the sand, and didn’t appear to have been recently unearthed.
Professor Robert Holman, an expert in beach processes and near-shore waves and currents at the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, told Global News it’s unlikely the shapes occurred naturally.
“I would say the chances are a little less than 0.00000 per cent,” said Holman.
“You can see that there have been several high tide lines since the lines were done (wrack lines in the near field at two elevations).”
Holman said his first thought was that the grid had been laid out to help with social distancing at the beach.
However, the remoteness of the location renders that explanation unlikely.